Dear friend of Ikaria,
If you happen to visit our island, don't miss out on our Kaisi: an apricot variety that you will find only in Ikaria. The Kaisi apricot is smaller than the usual apricots. It is very tasty, sweet and aromatic and – after you have broken the outer shell – you can eat it’s core! The core tastes like a good quality of almond (the core of the common apricots is bitter and not edible).
The Kaisi apricot is a seasonal fruit and the harvest time lasts less than a month, from late May to the middle of June. Once harvested it needs to be consumed immediately because it’s a very difficult fruit to keep fresh. This is why we often dry them or turn them into sweets or marmalades.
The Kaisi needs a dry and warm environment, and therefore it is mostly grown in the south and west side of Ikaria. The best ones you will taste in Xylosyrti, Maganitis and Karkinagri.
In 1900 the trade in Ikaria was flourishing. In the decade of 1930 the average yearly apricot production was about 480 tons and was intended for export and personal consuming. Ikaria exported Kaisi to Chios, Mytilini, Thessaloniki and Athens.
In the 1950ies the Ikarian apricot got was so famous that in the street markets of Athens apricot sellers were trying to sell and advertise their apricots as “Ikarian apricots” or “Kaisi from Ikaria with almond core”. But of course the Ikarians living in Athens knew the difference and would uncover the truth …
There is another unique and rare variety of apricots in Ikaria named Sartaloudo, or the “wild version” of Kaisi. It is smaller than Kaisi and also extremely aromatic and tasty. Nowadays it’s rare to find it even in Ikaria.
But what makes our small size apricots so tasty and aromatic? I would say the Ikarian soil: you will never succeed to grow a Kaisi tree in another place in Greece or elsewhere!
Hope you enjoyed the content...